Fast Route To Radiolabeled Formaldehyde | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 28 | p. 34 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 14, 2008

Fast Route To Radiolabeled Formaldehyde

Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: JACS In C&EN

Scientists and doctors may soon have access to a greater number of radiotracer compounds for positron emission tomography (PET), thanks to a new method for making radiolabeled formaldehyde. Compounds containing carbon-11 are popular radiotracers for PET scans, but the radionuclide's 20-minute half-life presents a challenge to chemists: The process of generating a 11C labeling reagent, synthesizing a tracer molecule, and then purifying that compound so that it can be injected into a patient waiting for a PET scan must all take place before the radioactive signal decays. Methylation with [11C]methyl iodide is the most common radiolabeling reaction, but this restricts radiotracers to compounds with pendant methyl groups. A team led by Jacob M. Hooker of Brookhaven National Laboratory now has developed a simple and rapid route to [11C] formaldehyde, thereby expanding the types of radiolabeling reactions (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., DOI: 10.1002/anie.200800991). The synthesis uses [11C] methyl iodide to methylate trimethylamine N-oxide. [11C] formaldehyde is subsequently generated via elimination of trimethylamine. Hooker's group was able to make the reaction work with radiolabeled reagents in a matter of minutes under mild conditions.

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